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THE COLUMN: Virginia at Pittsburgh Complete Preview

Virginia travels to Pittsburgh in hopes of a bowl bid.

THE DETAILS

TIME: 12:30 PM (EST)

DATE: October 28th, 2017

LOCATION: Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA

WHERE TO WATCH: Regional Sports Networks

DEPTH CHART


THE LOWDOWN.

We all knew it was going to happen at some point. But, a 41-10 loss against Boston College? I don’t think many would have guessed that Virginia’s second loss would have been like that. The Hoos had a dismal performance against the Eagles and it served as a reminder that this Virginia team has to remain humble.

The Cavaliers now sit on a 5-2 record, going in as three point underdogs against a 3-5 Pittsburgh Panthers team. This week’s game is a litmus test for the team on how they bounce back from a loss.

Win? Virginia will solidify a bowl qualification - something that hasn’t happened since 2011.

Lose? Looming on the horizon for Virginia is an ACC gauntlet of teams: GT, Louisville, Miami (8), and VT (13). All of those being games that Virginia will most likely not be favored in. Buckle up.


WE LIKE STATS.

Provided by Danny Neckel

The Good For UVA

Category UVA Category Navy
Category UVA Category Navy
Passing Defense 15th (179.6) Passing Offense 128th (83.8)
Turnovers Lost 41st (16) Turnovers Gained 109th (13)
3rd Down Offense 68th (39.8%) 3rd Down Defense 101st (43.5%)

HOO’S WHO.

Kurt Benkert
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Kurt Benkert - QB

I know, I know. We’re featuring Kurt Benkert again but, you know, he is pretty important to the success of the Hoos. In last week’s disappointing loss against Boston College, he threw for 126 yards on 17 of 33 completions and one interception. With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, true freshman Lindell Stone came in. While this most likely doesn’t pose a threat to Benkert’s job for season, it is a check to make sure he performs sharply. And with the Cavaliers entering a tough stretch after Pitt, Benkert will have to be as sharp as possible.

Juan Thornhill
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Thornhill - CB

Third-year Juan Thornhill has become a staple for the Wahoo’s defense. The emergence of Brenton Nelson at safety has allowed Thornhill to move to his normal cornerback position. Last week, he got banged up but (thankfully) he is back in the lineup this week. Thornhill has two picks on the year and is a reliable corner that the Wahoos will need down the stretch.

Malcolm Cook
Kris Wright

Malcolm Cook - LB

Third-year Malcolm Cook is finally back in the starting line up. His Virginia career has unfortunately been plagued with injuries: in 2015, he suffered a season-ending injury and he missed the entire 2016 season for medical reasons. This year, Cook has missed the Boise State, Duke, North Carolina and Boston College games with an injury too. BUT, he is back and we only hope that he can stay healthy and bolster up the UVA defense.

Darris Hall
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Darris Hall - RB

Darris Hall is not technically the Panther’s starting running back. In fact, prior to last week, Hall was fifth in rushing for the Panthers. After that game, he is now first in rushing for the team. How is that possible? One might ask. Well, Hall ran for TWO HUNDRED FIFTY FOUR yards and THREE touchdowns against Duke. Yeah. Pat Narduzzi will obviously deploy his running back against the Hoos, but it remains to be seen if he’s the real deal.

Jester Weah
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jester Weah - WR

Jester Weah and Rafael Araugo-Lopes lead the Panthers in receiving with 458 and 443 receiving yards, respectively. Weah, a Senior, has been hot the last four games though, amassing 374 of his receiving yards in them. Virginia showed ineptness in defending the air (and ground) game last week and will need to lock down Pittburgh’s receivers this week.

Ben DiNucci
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ben DiNucci - QB

Senior QB Max Browne went down with a season-ending shoulder injury against Syracuse and Head Coach Pat Narduzzi has experimented with freshmen Ben DiNucci and Kenny Pickett. Narduzzi has decided that he is sticking with DiNucci at quarterback, possibly because “Narduzzi & DiNucci” sounds like a great sandwich spot.


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